Sri Lanka’s Cabinet of Ministers decided to allow importation of special bamboo sticks for incense stick production with tax relief citing shortages in sourcing these bamboo sticks locally.
The proposal was presented by the Minister of Industries, Wimal Weerawansa to solve current issues in the industry.
Accordingly, importation of the required quantity of special bamboo sticks used as raw material for the production of incense sticks until the required quantity is produced locally to the required standard would be allowed.
Further, local producers would also be granted tax relief for such imported bamboo sticks.
It was also decided to direct the Department of Forest Conservation, Department of Agrarian Development, Development and Mahaweli Authority to identify locations to plant this particular bamboo plant.
The President Gotabaya Rajapaksa recently advised the Industrial Development Board to expand industrial crops such as this particular bamboo plant to reduce foreign exchange outflows.
“Wetlands that have no agricultural value can be used to plant industrial crops like cane. A large sum of foreign exchange is spent annually on the importation of bamboo sticks used for the production of incense sticks. We can manufacture them locally and stop foreign exchange being drained to other countries,” he said.
Meanwhile, one of top incense stick producers in the country, Thai Sumedha Enterprise Private Limited recently entered into Canadian Market under the trademark ‘Thai Sri Lanka’.
However, certain studies found incense smoke to be harmful for human heath as it contains carcinogens as well as irritants.
According to United States National Risk Management Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), exposure to the particulate matter present in incense smoke has been linked to asthma, lung inflammation and even cancer. In fact, long-term exposure to incense smoke was found to be related to an increased risk for upper respiratory cancers as well as squamous cell lung cancer
In addition, a study carried out by National Health Service (NHS) of United Kingdom found that the effect of some of the incense smoke tested on the cells was greater than that of the tobacco smoke.